Jami Gee is a native of New York City and lives in Sarasota, Florida.
She is a guitarist extraordinaire having reached virtuoso status. Well known as a “finger stylist”, she plays every type of music from Bach, Broadway, Country, Flamenco to Rock. However, Jazz is her favorite it’s because it’s such a challenge to have to play knowing where you’ve been, where you are and where you’re going. And Jami reveals she hears 15th century music in her head all the time.
Jami started playing guitar at 9 years old on Feb. 11, 1964 after seeing the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. Her family could not afford formal training, so Jami was self-taught by watching music shows on TV to pick up a new chord or ideas. At 17 yrs old, she received classical training in Manhattan from Alexander Bello and Pat O’Brien. She has played Las Vegas, New York, cruise ships, and backed up many national groups: The Temptations, The Four Tops, Little Eva, Peggy March, Johnny Thunder, Dee Dee Sharp, Danny and the Juniors, The Shirelles, Joey Dee and the Starlighters, The Coasters, The Platters and The Marvelettes. She has also played with The Florida West Coast Symphony Orchestra, The Sarasota Pops, Herbie Mann and several Broadway shows, The Man of LaMancha, Kiss Me Kate and Dream Girls.
When she isn’t playing, she’s teaching 60+ students per week at Guitar Center. Being a band director for 8 years led Jami to create and coach rock bands with talented young musicians. Jami’s Junior All Stars won first place at Universal Studios Band Competition in 2010. Now, Guitar Center sponsors rock shows for upcoming musicians with Jami mentoring and encouraging them to get on stage and jam with other musicians. The students dig her “School of Rock” approach and it’s her commitment to excellence in learning that has enabled her guitar to pay the bills for 45 years.
Jami has a particular playing technique using a thumb pick and long nails on her right hand to give maximum notes and speed. A full style and interpretation from all forms of music she has learned creates the musicality she’s famous for.
Being a transgender is one of Jami’s unique characteristics as a person, so she spent long hours alone practicing the guitar. Her other side was Jimi Gee, but after decades as a rock and roll guy, she relaunched her musical career as a woman. “No one chooses to be transgender. It happens in utero when the hormones that make us either male or female do not develop fully and we are of one body and another brain. Nature loves variations but society does not.”
“One of the reasons I enjoyed playing the guitar is that I could wear clothing that had nothing to do with being a boy. My mother knew I was different even back then, designing and sewing beautiful satin shirts with sparkles or ruffles for me to perform in. I was able to have the longer hair so that made me happier. Still, it has been difficult at times when people would hire me, see me and tell me to leave when they noticed I was different. Luckily, being in the music profession which celebrates unity in diversity, I have been able to survive with my situation.”
Don’t let the long hair and pink guitar fool you, Jami takes on the boys with girl power. In fact, she says it’s how she plays like she does, when the female feelings inside her come through. “Gender is between your ears and not between your legs”, she says. Finally, after raising 2 sons it’s her time to shine. Her joy and colorful personality definitely shine through. "Right now I’m senior instructor at Guitar Center, where they believed in me and gave me a chance. I sincerely thank them for having the compassion to hire someone like me. I am sorry to have dragged Sarasota through this change, but I have peace inside now.”
Accept no one’s definition of your life. Define yourself and get the job done. That’s all that is going to matter, after all.